Sisodia Arrested: Unanswered Questions On Delhi Liquor Scam

Sisodia Arrested: The Questions That Would Make AAP Uncomfortable

by Swarajya Staff - Monday, February 27, 2023 07:57 PM IST
Sisodia Arrested: The Questions That Would Make AAP UncomfortableDelhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia (@Pinging18/Twitter)

The CBI's recent arrest of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Manish Sisodia, in connection with the Delhi liquor scam has caused the Aam Aadmi Party to declare today, 27 February as a "black day."

The case has raised numerous questions regarding the Delhi government's excise policy and the involvement of major players in the alleged irregularities.

A reading of the entire case's history shows that there were certain questions around it which made the AAP leadership uncomfortable. They have either dodged the these questions or avoided them entirely.

Some of these are addressed here:

Q: Why did the AAP government rescind the new excise policy?

A: The AAP government decided to cancel the Excise Policy 2021-22 after the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, V K Saxena, recommended an investigation into alleged irregularities in its formation and implementation. These irregularities were part of the report submitted by the Chief Secretary. The report revealed violations of various acts and rules that provided undue benefits to liquor licensees.

The report highlighted that the Excise Department, headed by Excise minister, Mansish Sisodia allowed a waiver of Rs 144.36 crores on the tendered license fee to the liquor cartel, using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse.

The Chief Secretary's report was in accordance with Rule 57 of the Transaction of Business Rules 1993, which mandates the former to flag any deviation from laid down procedures to the LG and the Chief Minister.

If the AAP was certain and confident that there was no irregularity in the policy, why did its government not stand its ground and stand with the policy?

Q: Why is AAP talking about Education policy as defence in a case of alleged irregularity in excise policy?

A: The AAP appears to be resorting to its usual diversionary tactics by highlighting Manish Sisodia 'achievements' as the Education Minister in an attempt to deflect allegations against him as the Excise Minister.

Also read—Numbers don’t lie: The truth about AAP’s ‘education model’ in Delhi

Instead of addressing the accusations directly, the party aims to sway public opinion by emphasising Sisodia's role in creating a "world-class education model", which they claim has rattled the BJP.

In fact, the PR around its education model intensified when several of its associates, including social media in-charge Vijay Nair, were arrested and questioned.

When their Health Minister, Satyendra Jain, was arrested, the AAP praised him for his contributions, such as the introduction of "mohalla clinics," and even suggested he deserved a prestigious award like the Padma Vibhushan.

Q: Is CM Arvind Kejriwal free of responsibility for the alleged corruption that took place during his tenure given that now even his deputy is behind bars?

A: No, the fact that his deputy is in jail does not absolve Arvind Kejriwal of responsibility for the corruption that occurred during his tenure.

The Enforcement Directorate recently filed a second charge sheet in the Delhi liquor scam case, alleging that a portion of the Rs 100 crore in "kickbacks" generated from the scrapped Delhi excise policy was used in the AAP's campaign during the 2022 Goa assembly election.

The agency claimed that the party urgently required funding for the elections in Punjab and Goa. Additionally, a DANICS officer who served as Manish Sisodia's secretary stated that he saw proposals (related to the new excise policy) for the first time in the draft GoM report, which was handed over to him in March 2021.

He was then directed to prepare a report on the basis of the said document and was called by his senior to the residence of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

The DANICS officer stated that there was no discussion in the GoM meetings about giving wholesale business to private entities or fixing a 12 per cent profit margin.

The ED further alleged that a close aide of Kejriwal arranged a video call between him and Sameer Mahendru, during which Kejriwal referred to the associate as "his boy" and told Mahendru to trust him.

The same associate received a kickback of 100 crore rupees from a group on behalf of AAP leaders, part of which was used in the election campaign.

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